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What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is an abnormality of motor function (as opposed to mental function) and postural tone that is acquired at an early age, even before birth. Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy usually show in the first year of life.
This abnormality in the motor system is the result of brain lesions that are nonprogressive. The motor system of the body provides the ability to move and control movements. A brain lesion is any abnormality of brain structure or function. "Nonprogressive" means that the lesion does not produce ongoing degeneration of the brain. It is also implies that the brain lesion is the result of a one-time brain injury, that will not occur again. Whatever the brain damage that occurred at the time of the injury is the extent of damage for the rest of the child's life.
Cerebral palsy affects approximately one to three out of every thousand children born. However, it is much higher in infants born with very low weight and in premature infants.
Interestingly, new treatment methods that resulted in an increased survival rate of low-birth weight and premature infants actually resulted in an overall increase in the number of children with cerebral palsy. The new technologies, however, did not change the rate of cerebral palsy in children born full term and with normal weight.